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  • Writer's pictureAlmeera Eman

Why Travel and Experiential Programs are Critical in 2023 with Carpe Diem's ED, Adam


In today’s episode, we had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Carpe Diem’s ED, Adam! Such a kindred spirit who shares his experience with travel and experiential programs.


Together, Michelle and Adam dive deep into the key skills that youth are missing whether that’s because of gaps created from the pandemic or the pressures of family and society. Exploring how experiential experiences play a valuable role in rebuilding these skills and putting your young person one step closer to finding their values, passions and interests.


Take a listen!


Topics Discussed

  • Learn more about Carpe Diem’s and Global Routes Programs

  • Benefits of Gap Years, Experiential Learning and Travel

  • The importance of self-exploration and finding your values, interests and passions.

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Transcript

Michelle Dittmer - 00:00

Hey there everyone and welcome to the Gap Your Podcast. My name is Michelle Ditmer and I am your host and Gap Your Expert.


Today we are coming at you with an incredible guest who has more life experience crammed into his life than anybody three times his age. But we are going to unpack all of that. So I would like to welcome Adam to the show today.

Welcome, Adam!


Adam - 00:24 Hey Michelle, it's lovely to be here. Thanks for having me.


Michelle Dittmer - 00:28

Yeah, no worries. I didn't want to give away all of the details because I love them when the guests get to introduce themselves and tell us their backstory because nobody knows you better than you. So instead of me rhyming off a bio, I'm going to invite you to share a little bit about who is Adam? What is Adam all about? And give our audience a sense of where the conversation might be coming from.


Adam - 00:58 Sure, well this story, I'll keep it concise. I've been doing a lot of family ancestry work recently through some of the work I've been doing on the Hawaiian Islands. Yes, so the story starts in 70 AD when we're starting. My mother's family was living in the Middle East and after some war and turmoil took a ship and the ship crashed on the coast of Albania and they ended up in Greece. And that started about 1000 years of my family being in motion and moving throughout the world and coalescing in different places. So I definitely grew up, my mother's from Greece. I was born in Boston in Massachusetts and definitely grew up having sort of a foot in two different worlds.

My grandmother didn't speak English, so I grew up in a multicultural household. And I think my, it really impacted my idea of what's, of what's sort of normal and the way that life can be experienced in the richness that can exist in this world and it really set me off on a path of discovery, you know, from a young age. I spent a lot of summers as a kid visiting family in Greece.

And by the time I was in college, it was, you know, the sort of the tone was set to continue exploring and discovering about myself in the world and how I can, how I can best contribute. And, yeah, we could talk about some more of the details later, but I'm so thrilled to be here.


I've worked in experiential education, since 1996, starting as a camp counselor in high school. So what's that 17? No, it's more than that 27 years or something like that.

And yeah, really grateful to be working with the Carpe Diem of Education and Global Routes at this incredible intersection of education, travel and transformation. And so, yes, like to be here today.


Michelle Dittmer - 03:16

Yeah, you're speaking my language. And I love when you talk about discovering more about yourself and the world and how you contribute. And when I talk about gap years, I say that's really central to what the definition of a gap year could be is not only the travel component or learning about the world, but there's this beautiful experience that happens in discovering yourself in conjunction with the world, but then also finding clarity of like, Hey, this is this is where my interests and my skills align with other things that are out there.

And this is how I want to show up. This is how I want to share my gifts with the world. And I think that that's such a beautiful learning that all culminates together with within the experiential learning space and something that can't be recreated in a classroom at all.

So I'm so grateful that you're here sharing your story and that organizations like Carpe D and Global Routes exist to facilitate that because a lot of people maybe don't have that global experience that you had as a kid and they need some support or they're anxious or nervous about stepping outside of their local community. And so having those resources there and having experts like you and the folks that can gap to help navigate those discoveries, I think it's just so, so needed and so powerful at this moment right now. So I'm grateful to you for being here is what I'm saying.

Adam - 05:00

It was great to be here. I love talking about these things and if there's it inspires anybody to sort of get out of the narrow pathway and open their eyes a little bit that's a gigantic win.

Michelle Dittmer - 05:15

Yeah. Oh, I love it. I love it so much. So why do you think that experiential learning and travel and gap years is so critical at this point. We're kind of, someone say post pandemic, some would say at a new evolution of the pandemic, but we've gone through kind of three intense years with lockdowns and all of these things and we're emerging into a new chapter of humanity. So why is it so critical right now for young people right now to experience this and where do you think that can take individuals?


Adam - 05:52

The reality is I don't think that experiential learning has ever been more important. Whatever we want to call 2023 as it relates to pandemic, you know, aside. Young people, people that especially people that were in middle school or high school or even elementary school over the last few years have had to navigate some huge developmental hurdles. There is a podcast of ours recently called offshore learning and I don't know if you're familiar with that one. Well, it's really cool, I can't remember that. I think his name is Chris Baum. I pronounced his last name wrong, but the way that he articulates what is happening during adolescence. You know, we think so much of adolescence is being like, you know, the squeaky voice and the physical changes that are happening. Exactly.

But really what's happening is young people are learning how to intersect with the world outside of the relationship with their parents. And a lot of young people lost that opportunity and are, are like have the major catching up to do. And that kind of learning and that kind of growth. It’s not, It may be in some super dreamy alternative learning environments, but it's really not possible in, in like our typical school atmosphere. Things are so geared towards like productivity and living up to somebody else's standard. There really is not much room for exploring passions and feeling lit up. And so I think experiential learning, especially immersive experiential learning and when I say immersive, I mean programming that has a container that's intentionally built by the facilitators and the participants is so valuable because it creates safe space for students.


There's such a huge distinction between what happens in school as students are fitting in what happens on when done and facilitated skillfully on an experiential learning program is students get to experience the sense of belonging, which many students have never experienced before some experience that when they go to summer camp and they feel like they can really be held, you know, for their true self and their true interest. But that typically doesn't happen in school environment schools are very kind of like the joke like very “Lord of the Fly” that you know there's nobody that's supporting, you know, school and community dynamics in a way that's essential at this age group.


And so I think experiential learning it's so important for students, especially right now they've students have lost out on the opportunity to gain those critical life skills and these types of experiences offer like guided opportunities where that learning has scaffolded it. And so students can continue to take a step further take a step further take a step further with support and be able to actually discover like what likes them at this world. What are they passionate about when they eventually do go on to higher education and most students that take a gap year.

Do that, do that quite successfully. They're actually able to choose courses of study that they're interested in because they've experienced real world applications of those content areas, as opposed to, you know, lot of people go to college because they, you know, and they just have the highest in calculus. Therefore, I'm going to be an engineer.

Exactly, exactly right that they're told what to do yeah based, you know, based on what they, you know, they're basically what like our society like values and cultures as opposed to what. And it's such a privilege to live in a, in the society and culture we actually have some choice over what we do most people in the world. So it's this time in particular so important, you know, when I see students applications come in these days. I typically like I'm subtracting three from their age to really like understand like where they might be like developmentally and emotionally and that's okay. It just means we're constructing experience that's going to be a little bit more in line with what they're able to receive.


Michelle Dittmer - 10:10 Yeah, and I love the idea that you talked about with scaffolding and helping people to grow because so many people have this desire to backpack Europe on their own and to have these transformative experiences and you're like well wait, like the only travel you've done has been to an all inclusive with mom and dad.

And, and there is so much skill that needs to happen for you to be comfortable and to make the most of those experiences and that's what those, those structured programs and those facilitators are there for is to help folks to feel comfortable. It helps, it helps not only the participant but it also helps the parents to feel comfortable with their young person knowing that they have this skill gap and often parents are looking saying my kid is, is not ready for university but like let's send them a supportive of them is going to help them find community, find something that is different and exciting for them, give them that sense of fun, excitement, adventure, while developing skills that they don't even know that they could develop on these experiences and build up the skills and confidence to be able to have other experiences whether that's moving into residence at university or starting at your own business. All of those things, the skills that come through travel and experiential learning are so transferable that it's, it's really foundational skills that are being developed and supported by a facilitator, then taking it to that more independent level can be so beautiful and elevate the experience that happens.


Adam - 12:07

So, so well said. I think that's, you know, something that I think about like all the time when I'm, when I'm interviewing students, I ask them like, okay, if you had, you know, you're a group of 12 over to your house for dinner, like what are you going to make? Most 17 18 year olds have never cooked a meal, you know, and I work really closely in the past with amazing adolescent developmental psychologist and a term that I remember her using was not helicopter parents but snowplow parents in that it's big parents are coming in at any time there's an issue, whether it's at school, this happens even in college, like the amount of I have professor, like university professor friends who are hearing from their students parents that are complaining about this or that like.


Students don't, they don't have the opportunity to solve problems, especially interesting problems, which means they just when they get to a college campus and they need to change classes or the dining halls closed and they need to figure out how to feed themselves. Like they're just that resilience isn't there. Those sort of like street smarts aren't there. And it's, it's so interesting because I grew up, I grew up like pretty feral, you know, I grew up in suburbs and Massachusetts. Like I would, you know, I'd leave home in the morning. I'd be riding with my friends. I mean, climbing trees in the woods and like all these things. And sometimes I got hurt and there were consequences that I'd wear a cast or it was painful.

But right now, like young people are just protected from those things to the extent that they actually don't get, they don't get to make mistakes that are where they're, you know, the real learning is.

Michelle Dittmer - 13:45

Yeah. And I think that that's not anybody's fault. That's just like the shift in society. So, so if parents are feeling like, Oh, dear, I am a snow club parent. That's, that's the way that society has told you that you should be parenting because we want what's best for our kids. Therefore, we should make their lives easier. And in fact, that's what we're seeing now is that it's having the opposite effect. So going in with all best intentions, giving your kid the best experience, giving them, making sure that they are having all the opportunities without any of the struggles.


There was actually just an article published. I think it was psychology today around parents actually getting a dopamine hit when they solve a problem for their kid. Because it feels good. I'm helping my kid. I'm helping my kid. So we're getting this chemical reinforcement that we should be helping our kid. And it feels good. And it gives us those warm fuzzies and oh, I should do that again. I should do that again. And we're actually depriving them of those opportunities to solve the problems.

But in society right now, we, we solve the problems for our kids. And then we launched them and are like, what's wrong? Why can't you survive? And it's, and it's that, that those missing skills that are there, not anybody's fault, but now is our time to say, okay, these are the missing skills. Now, how can I support my young person in acquiring and practicing those skills? And the answer is not continued to be a snowplow parent.

Adam - 15:28

Yes. I'm so glad that you named that, like, for all the parents that are out there and that all you care about is like the well being in the growth and the happiness of the young people. And your life, you know, our society, it's just the median has moved to the much more like, yeah, the median has moved like quite a bit in terms of like what is like normal and safer, you know, for young people to experience. And part of that is that we, to a large extent, we do live in like a culture of fear. If you turn on the news, it's going to be 99, you know, terrifying stories, you know, for every, you know, story of the light.

But, you know, I think the way that you describe, yeah, the fact that like, yes, the parents are thinking like, how can we be, you know, maximize like my kids happiness and growth and minimize suffering. It always makes me think of the poem of “Joy and Sorrow” by Khalil Javan. I don't know if you're familiar with the poem I'm going to read like two lines that like change my life I like early 20s I read this. “Set your joy is your sorrow and massed and the self same wealth from which your laughter rises was all oftentimes filled with your tears. The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. It's not the cup that holds your wine. The very cup that was burned in the potters oven”


So basically this idea that students, they need to, yeah, like the happiness doesn't feel happy unless, unless there's a like a spectrum that you've experienced. I mean, sometimes it takes like traveling to other places to come back and just have like my mind blown and how fortunate I am to live there.

And so students are sort of like young people are being robbed of experience and like the totality of life in some ways. And it's something that when I think about program design and, you know, programs are like our programs are supposed to be challenging like they're definitely like really fun, but you know, there's a lot of type two fun in there like the real joy and the real fun comes from navigating things that are challenging. It can be like a big hike. It can be disagreements and conflict in the group where you need to find consensus. Those are like the real moments of like deep joy and deep appreciation spring from. And my sense is that young people aren't having access to that. And if they are, they're not, they don't have any support in navigating those from mentors that they trust teachers aren't playing that role. Young people are probably a little bit less likely to talk to their parents about, you know, friendship and relationship challenges that they're experiencing. But in a really safe group container setting with really skilled facilitators, there's space for those things to come out and feel supported.


Michelle Dittmer - 18:22

And those senses of accomplishment to like, Hey, I did this, I navigated this challenge was it, whether it was interpersonal or physical or. Even navigating complex emotions that can be overwhelming. That confidence that's where it comes from is overcoming those things and being able to do that.


So when parents come to me, say, my kid is not confident, they need a confidence boost. Like, they need to do some hard things. They need to, they need to get out there and they need to get out of their comfort zone. And so that's where the growth happens.

And I think that there is, I just did a podcast on, on how fear is ruining your, your kids life because they, they have this internalized sense of fear of failure and rejection that they are paralyzed in taking action. And so as a parent and as a young person, getting to that stage where they are comfortable to take action to sign up for a program to book a plane ticket to take that first step takes a lot of, a lot of courage and a lot of support.


But once that, that first step has happened, once you are sitting on that plane, you, you may feel overwhelmed in the moment, but the second that you realize what you have done, it just opens up a whole new layer to that individual and opens up potential of themselves in the world. And like, I want to hop on a plane right now. I'm doing myself a pep talk here, like sign me up. But I think that is one of the biggest gifts we can give our young person right now is the encouragement to get out of the comfort zone and not let the fear be the driver of every decision that's made.


Adam - 20:27 Like, I think so much about, like, especially in terms of like what's humans, but especially students are feeling, you know, like we have this like, start this over a little bit. Like, I love swimming in really cold water, which a lot of people think is weird, but I love it because it's super intense and it's this really interesting way to be like, I'm experiencing these super intense sensations.

And like my brain is trying to say it's intense and it's bad versus it's just like intense and I'm feeling a lot. And I think it's that, you know, I think in our society, like there's so much that's like pointed at like, it's like everyone should be feeling like happy. And if you're not feeling happy, if you're anywhere else on the circle, even if you're just like on the edge of the circle, it's not like a good thing. And, you know, when you, when I hear you talking about like jumping on that flight or signing up for a program, it's that feeling of being at the edge of the diving before the other edge of the diving board. You know, in those butterflies, like it feels scary and you're about to step into the unknown, but you also feel the most alive.

My hope for every high schoolers that they get to feel that sense of being alive like those butterflies to be to experience presence. I think for, you know, for young people that like they're trained at such a, it's such an early age to be, you know, to always be future thinking.

And I think that the demands that we put on high schoolers in North America where you might have seven academic classes in the day, and then sports, and then all your activities and then homework and seven classes after that. Like there's, like, students aren't able to just be present in the moment. There's so much doing and very little being. And I think it's so important for young people to have that space to actually exist in the moment to feel what they're feeling. And to just have, just have a deeper connection to the world that, you know, around them.

Michelle Dittmer - 22:21

Yeah, I 100 % on the same page. And space to, to breathe instead of just being on treadmill of go go. And I think as adults too, we are also often on that treadmill and we've created this busyness badge of honor. That is detrimental to us.

And then we pass that on to our kids as well. Of, well, you need to be thinking about the future. You need to be thinking about the job that's going to make the most money you need to, you need to, you need to. And these kids just need some space to breathe. And they need some space to be asked the questions that they haven't been asked.

Who are you? What is important to you? What are your values? Because so many people end up with mental health challenges because they're living a life that doesn't align with their values. And they don't even know what their values are. They just know they're unhappy. They know that what they're doing feels wrong to them.


And this isn't like, I am going to get a job killing puppies and it's against my values. This is, I am working an office job and I don't know why, but it feels crappy to me. And, and so many of these times it comes up against a value that person holds that they don't know what they have. And without the time and space. And unfortunately right now somebody asking those questions, somebody driving that reflection because they haven't been scaffolded with that skill. They need somebody to step in and ask those questions so that they know who they are and they can make decisions for their life that align with who they are, not with what their highest grades are, not with what's going to make them the most money, but something that's going to lead a fulfilling life for them. And as parents, you want them to be happy, healthy, successful. If you're only pushing successful, those other two are going to fall right off the map. And so having that time to do that introspection and to define who you are and especially after high school, this is a pivotal point, as you were saying, when they are establishing who they are outside of that family unit. This is the time to have those conversations and they shouldn't be necessarily happening with mom and dad, because sometimes their values, who they are is going to be slightly different or vastly different than the family values. And so having a safe space to explore their identity is so critical at this time. I'm going to step off my soapbox and give you a second to respond there, but I really, really believe this.


Adam - 25:13 But I mean, all of this is resonating for me so hard right now. Like I'm visiting my parents and my child at home and there's just so much that like, you know, there's just so many ghosts, like in a house and so many, you know, I'm sitting like where I was doing homework, you know, when I was in high school. And so many of those things hit on point like a parents at that stage, like an adolescence, like developmentally, like young people, like that whole period is about as about learning and experience the world with people outside of like your little nuclear family.

And so like there's a sense, you know, it doesn't happen so much anymore, you know, but sometimes like I'll get, you know, I'm visiting my like family and my sisters here and like we turn into like nine and six years old again, you know, and we're like, I'm like bickering over something small. Like there's something, I even hear students on and some of our high school summer programs. You know, when students are in the, like just the most amazing, like earth shattering experience and we have a couple, we're tech for your programs but there's a couple scheduled calls home, and it just like turns into like a dump truck, you know, it's just everything turns to like I'm going to dump this on you and this on you and this on you and like did this thing come in the mail, you know, it's just, it's not, it's not the right environment for that to happen. When you talk about, I mean I think so much of this is coming up because like I'm in the space that I grew up in and like I remember my, like my grandparents are Holocaust survivors, you know, Greece and so I grew up, like the message I remember growing up was the only thing that matters is your health like the health is like the only thing that, you know, not the only thing but like the health is like I far like the most important thing like the big your ability to survive and thrive is message that I got all the time and I, you know, I look at.

I don't care about dating myself, you know, I'm going to be 42 this summer. I hangouts, you know, with sometimes with like friends from high school and college at the same age but have been in the grind and doing work that there that is not in alignment with their values and their wishes like. They look and they experienced life at like pretty haggard, you know, and like I'm super grateful that I've been able to just spend a lot of time outside and to explore and stay in really good shape and cook and eat the things that you know I know we're nourishing for me.


So many parents are Gen X, Gen X parents of baby boomer, you know, like baby boomer grandparents where it like that time, you know, like for baby boomers was, it was a pretty like clear cut like linear path of success. But at that time, like a family, you could work a middle class job and own your home and send your students, you know, kids to college like that is not the case anymore. And so that's it's an important. I feel strong to young people should. Should have exposure to different ideas and pathways and especially on like these facilitated programs. They get to work with mentors program leaders overseas educators that we call them that have had this like diversity of life experiences and can. And can mentor them and inspire them of like what do other pathways look like and how might I go in direction


Michelle Dittmer - 28:50

Yeah and I think that’s really important because when we are coming up through the highschool system we are exposed to doctor, lawyer, teacher, firefighter. But even if you take one of those professions, even if you look at doctor, there is so much related to the medical field, you could be a naturopath, you could be a chiropractor, you could be a public health worker, you could be a social service worker or a personal support worker, like the umbrella is just so huge. And when we get into experiential learning and talking with people from different backgrounds, that's when we get exposure to the other things that are out there and the other things that are possible that we're just never on our radar.

Speaking of grandparents, my grandfather always said you don't know what you don't know. And unless you're getting out there and exposing yourself, nobody's going to knock on your door and say, Hey, did you know you could be an XYZ as a career and hey that exactly aligns with what I want to do in my life. You've got to do some seeking out there and a lot of it comes haphazardly through conversations with a friend. Oh, my uncle does this or my hairdressers dogs groomer does this. And that's where we start to get things.So meeting people and having experiences is never a waste. So even if it is not 100 % aligned with exactly what you want to do for your career because you want to be a pediatric brain surgeon, you're going to get experience that is going to provide you with skills and exposure to things that are going to open up so many doors, no matter where you decide to head in life.


Adam - 30:45 And brings up quite a bunch of things from me. Like one thing I'm thinking about a lot as we it's back to that concept of fitting in versus sense of belonging. And like we're asking for the most people young people feel pressure to fit into one of many tracks and especially with at least statistically of recognized like learning differences and like neuro diversity. It's ways that people actually aren't celebrated, you know, for their difference. And you know, that's something that we, you know, we really think a lot about is like the idea that every individual has their own genius. And how do we help people see that and give them the tools to let that unfold in the world around them is where it's at. And there are a couple other reflections I had there, but I can't remember them.

Oh, yeah, there was, I was at a training like all the last week and one quote that really hit me was the best lessons are in the margins of where you fail, not in the center of where you succeed. I love, I love, love that. And the same thing we're talking like if you're in a very like linear path, you're, you never get to be in the margins. You don't get to be in that gray or you don't get to see what's, you know, what's over that hill or under that tree.

Michelle Dittmer - 32:20

Also get yourself into an echo chamber, which I think we're is causing a lot of challenges right now politically, but social justice issues that we, we can align ourselves with people that are on the exact same track or have the exact same belief system or have the exact same political views. And, and once we surround ourselves with that, that uniform message, it just reverberates and gets stronger and stronger and stronger.

And then all of a sudden I have to be in pediatric brain neurologist surgeon because everybody's doing it and it's the best because everybody around me telling me it's the best. Whereas when we have diversity in abilities in skills in interest in backgrounds, like that's where we get to really listen to ourselves and say, Hey, like, is that what I think or is that just a product of the messages I've been fed. And, and that is when we start to see more clearly rather than coming from a family of teachers, everybody's a teacher, everybody should be a teacher. You're going to get your summers off, it's going to be great. And you're like, I even like, do I like kids? I don't even know?


Adam - 32:37 I think like colleges can really be an echo chamber because you've got, especially with like certain colleges that might derive the majority of their students from a, you know, like a typical pathway. Something I love about, you know, reflections from, you know, and I can only talk about alumni from from, you know, Carp Diem Gap Year programs or Global Routes.

I mean, summer programs is, you know, I write a lot of their college recommendations letters. And so I hear from them about how things are going and I love, I love when they reflect on like the other students make like, or just there to have fun, you know, but because they were exposed to certain social issues or environmental issues or economic issues. Like there actually is a little bit more passion, not only for learning, but there's so many amazing opportunities on college campuses. You know, if you, if you're really into like let's say food justice. Most college campuses are going to have like food rescue organizations and like local sustainable ag organizations. And it's those students like to hear that instead of just like in the echo chamber like just doing the most fun thing. They're getting up early on, you know, Sunday morning to go, you know, plant vegetables, pick vegetables, you know, work at the local CSA. And so I love seeing that ripple effect to help students get a little bit more perspective so they can actually like pursue a life that's meaningful to them as opposed to just doing what like the army of ants is doing.

Michelle Dittmer - 35:02

Yeah, I love it. Okay, so let's pivot slightly here. So you've been talking a lot about Carpe Diem and Global Routes, but how are you actually connected? What are you doing with your life these days?


Adam - 36:00

Yeah, so that's a great question. So, um, global Routes and carpe diem were two separate organizations, but actually merged in the last year, which made a lot of sense. We share a lot of our, a lot of our leaders would lead to the next year. So to back the go I'm going to carpe gap semester programs and then leave for global Routes in the summer. And there are a lot of reasons that coming together and uniting this team has made a lot of sense.


So I'm yeah, I'm the new executive director of carpe diem and global Routes, but that really looks like I'm a time person like details organizational skills. Those things are really difficult for me.

So like what I really focus in on is like sort of big tent picture like coalition building partner building to be able to bring the people together that are passionate about these types of programs and these types of experiences. So I work a little bit more on the external side. And love working with the overseas educators that the leaders that are going to be in the field supporting students. So that's what I do these days.

Michelle Dittmer - 36:20

But when you when I asked you before the interview started kind of to tell me a little bit about yourself you kind of mentioned that like your whole life has been a gap year kind of philosophically, but that can be. That's a lot of big fear for a lot of parents is that my kid is going to fall off this track. And they're going to just become a bum that travels the world and ends up sleeping on benches because they don't, they're not making any money. And they've created this picture of what that looks like, but it can actually be a strength to have a life that aligns a little bit more with a gap year than with this treadmill of directions. So I was wondering if you could share some anecdotes or some thoughts around that.

Adam - 37:11

Yeah, that's. I think my situation is like also unique because like I did, you know, I said my grandmother didn't like really speaking less and she was a huge part of like my growing up. And so I didn't feel like super American, you know, just because like, you know, I got like Mediterranean Routes. Like people always ask me like, where's your family from? You know, and things like that, which gave me sort of this sense of like otherness from the start that I thought was cool. You know, I was like cool at that. And so, you know, my whole life felt like a gap year because I was, I was used to my mother was a teacher. She taught for like 35 years in the Boston public schools. And so yeah, we would travel in the summers. And so I got really used to those sort of like gap summers. And by the time I was in college and I had the opportunity to spend a summer. I worked at a law firm doing like pro bono, like working for like pro bono clients in London. And then I bopped around Europe that summer and made all sorts of mistakes that I learned so much from. And then I went to the semester at sea program, the next semester. And then even as an adult, I went into teaching. I took a year off after college to travel through central and South America was really important for me to gain. Very strong Spanish language skills. But there, and then I talked for a few years and took a gap year from teaching, which ended up turning into five years.

I started with my partner at the time, we had started a food literacy education nonprofit, like literally out of our backpack. We wrote the curriculum in the like mountain huts and the Himalayas and the Paul. And we started leading these food literacy programs all over Asia and Eastern and Southern Africa. And it was through that experience and leading that organization that I learned how to run an organization, how to do accounting, the legal stuff. You know, like all of those entrepreneurial skills that have that have been critical in navigating, you know, like the next phase of life. And also, you know, taught me the importance of dreaming and putting your ideas into reality and like standing at the edge of the diving board and diving in every time and like the water feels great. So I don't think that I think my situation is unique that I felt pretty like untethered. Like our society and culture from, you know, from a younger age. So I think that I am like a little bit further out there, you know, I travel quite a bit like I definitely live like a pretty unconventional lifestyle by like our society standards. But at the same time, I feel like I contribute greatly to, you know, to the growth and learning and development and transformation of, you know, the young people. So I think that, you know, for parents that are like, we're like, oh, we're going to do this thing and they get off crack like statistically that's definitely not true. I think statistics show that, and I might be like, I'm not going to throw any numbers out, but that students that do a gap year are actually more likely to finish university. And for you, Harris, once they go there because they do have those life bills, they're actually interested. They're not just sort of like floating in space. So I think taking a gap here, I think you, you do. If you're a parent listening to this or student listening to this again, you definitely run the risk of your, your perspective changing quite a bit and you're in you discovering values that you've never even heard of before that are deeply important to you.

So yeah, it could, it could change your career path. It could change like what you, what you value in friendships and relationships. But I, I believe quite strongly those are all going to be in like a holistic sense for, for the positive for the greater good to allow young people to live like deeply meaningful and rewarding in lives that are in harmony with, with what our planet needs right now.


Michelle Dittmer - 41:23

Amen. I think that is, that is a great spot to wrap up this conversation. And thank you so much for joining us today. It's been such a pleasure to find kindred spirits to share in this conversation and I'm sure listeners will take a lot away. But if they wanted to find out more about Carpe Diem and Global Routes, where can they find that information?


Adam - 41:50

You know, so the Internet's a great place for that. I heard a thing you're too about that. It's a Carpe Diem Education dot org or Global Routes. Routes is spelled like routes, R -O -U -T -E -S dot org. A great starting place can also be social media like a Carpe Diem education. It's Carpe Gap Year or Global Routes. And that's, I think for young people like seeing the story told and like bite sized pieces might be really nice parents might appreciate the websites more about. Myself or anyone, our team's so happy. Like whether this is something you're looking for specifically or just trying to like gain a better understanding of like what this looks like. We're so happy to have those conversations and to support you and guide you in that process.

Michelle Dittmer - 42:33

Awesome. Well, go check out those websites and those social medias and we will link to all of them in the show notes.


So we will catch you in our next episode. Thanks for joining!


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